A class action lawsuit was recently settled between Water Street Brewery and many of its servers for $825,000. The lawsuit itself was filed back in November of 2016 by Angela Brandt when she claimed Water Street Brewery was in violation of “state and federal wage-and-hour laws at each of the company’s four locations.” According to Brandt, a former server, the brewery’s servers “had not been paid minimum wage because of various payroll practices, including requiring servers to share tips with certain employees and pay for discarded coasters, discarded silverware and broken dishes from their tips.” Additionally, the lawsuit also alleges “that servers did not receive overtime when they worked more than 40 hours per week.”
So if the settlement is approved by the court, what can current and former Water Street Brewery servers expect? How big of a piece of the pie will everyone get? What will the settlement accomplish? For starters, if approved, “the settlement will resolve the wage claims under Wisconsin law of 1,195 current and former servers who worked for any Water Street Brewery restaurant in the past two years.” In addition, it will “resolve claims under federal law of 78 people who joined the lawsuit.”
As for how much money the servers will receive, well, Brandt herself is looking to gain about $15,000 “for bringing the claim.” It is also estimated that she “would receive $13,726.30 to settle claims that her hours were reduced after she refused to pay for discarded items out of her tips and told her manager that the practice was unfair and illegal.” The rest of the 1,194 current and former servers “would receive a total of $483,231.71,” while the attorneys representing the servers will likely receive $275,000 if everything is approved. Not too shabby.
In response to the settlement, Larry Johnson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement: “This is an excellent result for the Wisconsin class, as well as the 78 individuals who are recovering additional money.”
On the other side of the aisle, Water Street Brewery has pushed back against the allegations that their servers were paid below the minimum wage. In a recent statement, Jennifer Walther, an attorney for Water Street Brewery, said:
“While the law can result in technical violations, Water Street Brewery asserts its employees never received pay below the minimum wage. Water Street Brewery is committed to providing well-paying jobs with total compensation exceeding the minimum wage.”